Beside the required areas for feed and run for animals the Institute of Livestock Research disposes of several stablings for cattle, sheep and goats. The actual livestock is composed of about 180 cattle (thereof barely 70 dairy cows of the Holstein Friesian breed, Fleckvieh and Brown Swiss) and about 200 sheep and goats. Detailed experiments and trials concerning keeping are carried out here, especially in the fields of animal feeding, alternative keeping of cattle, herd-management and stabling of sheep and goats.
General research aims of the Institute:
- Animal nutrition and physiology (consumption, evaluation of fodder in vivo / in situ / in vitro, lactation and mobilisation, fodder intake, nutrition and animal health)
- Alternative production-systems with cattle and small ruminants in order to preserve farms and cultural landscape (grassland for production of high-qualitative meat, systems with suckler cows, fattening systems, extensive sheep management, keeping of milk sheep, influence of pasturing on the floristic biodiversity)
- Influence of animal production on the nutrient balance of agricultural farms (influence on environment, trials concerning balance with cattle and sheep)
- Investigation of production data as base for economic model calculations and decisions
- Influence of nutrition on the quality of products (fatty acids in milk and meat, meat from alternative production-systems and gaps in production)
Head of the Institute:
Univ.-Doz. Dr. Leonhard Gruber
Organisation of the Institute with the respective focal points:
Department for Animal Nutrition
Head: DI Christian Fasching
- Investigations concerning mobilisation of nutrients during lactation of dairy cows
- Influence of the vegetative phase in grassland on fodder intake, digestibility, ruminating activity, parameters of rumen and blood as well as quality of milk
- Fodder intake, digestibility (in vivo) and degradability (in situ and in vitro) of feed at different stages of vegetation
- Evaluation of concentrate as well as of silage maize and green forage on the base of the in situ-method and the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein Systems
- Estimation of fodder intake at dairy cows
- Influence of protein supply on fodder intake, milk performance, rumen- and blood parameters as well as on N-excretion of dairy cows
The nutrition of farm animals is in an area of tension, which is marked by the nutrient supply of animals on the one hand and by the ecological and economic aspects of feeding on the other hand. Focal point of research of this department is the nutrition of ruminants. In this connection nutrient supply and mineral supply, physiological aspects of digestibility and further reaching topics are treated. Thereto belong, for example, the evaluation of fodder and the balance of nutrients (nitrogen excretions concerning their environmental friendliness).
The characterization and evaluation of basic ration and concentrate by means of international known procedures is the scientific base of the interpretation of the test results. Measurement of the digestibility of raw nutrients at wethers, the investigation of ruminal degradation-parameters of feedstuffs (in situ and in vitro) as well as the fractionation of carbohydrate and protein after the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System are the methods, which are used concerning this matter. Because the optimization of feeding is in a direct connection to the economy of cattle producing farms, the results of fodder-evaluation are not only prepared and published for scientific work but also put in an appropriate form for consultants and farmers.
The intake of fodder at dairy cows is of decisive importance in many respects. Therefore the department for animal nutrition extensively dedicates itself to research questions in this field (influence of the vegetative phase of grassland as well as influence of protein supply). An actual project deals with the nutrient mobilisation of dairy cows during lactation, in order to conclude the optimized energy level, a central topic in the feeding of dairy cows. Beside the data for milk performance and milk quality, which are always relevant for practice, in the trials there is also laid a focus on the connections between nutrition and animal health (effects on metabolism, health of claws, etc.). As well the influence of nutrition on the quality of products (e.g. the distribution of fatty acids in milk and meat), which is especially important for the customers, is examined.
Department for Alternative Cattle Production Systems and Herd Management
Head: Dr. Margit Velik
- Optimization of supplementary feed at diary cows on pasture
- Extensive keeping of suckler cows influence on animal health, fertility, performane of the calves and profitability
- Ecological and economic effects of extensive grassland management systems for the preservation of cultural landscape
- Development of herd management systems for cattle
- Influence of feeding intensity, genetics as well as methods of fattening on the achievement of mast and slaughtering, meat quality and cost effectiveness at cattle fattening
Measured at the total number of cows the part of suckler cows has been increasing in Austria during the last years. For many small and also for middle-seized farms this opting out of milk production and change-over to keeping of suckler cows is an interesting alternative. Additionally, the extensive keeping of suckler cows is an essential factor for preservation of cultural landscape. Therefore, this possibility increasingly fades into the centre of research activities of the department. Beside the supports the receipts for the calves are the single income of a farm with suckler cows. The higher the meat quality of the calf and the young cattle, respectively, and the shorter the duration of mast, the more profitable and economically more interesting is this way of management. The selection of the right suckler cows and the appropriate crossing partners, the length of the lactation period and the investigation of the optimized use of concentrate are therefore the centres of gravity. In order to be able to deal quickly with these questions, cooperations with agricultural technical schools and farms are searched for. Data from these farms and schools are valuable completions to the testing results of the AREC.
In Austria the pasturing of diary cows is strongly retrogressive. Therefore, this topic has been neglected in research for a longer period. New interesting pasture systems in connection with a new pragmatic approach - "low input" instead of "high input" - make the pasturing increasingly interesting again, especially from the sight of work economy, and benefit the image of the milk farmers, additionally. Therefore, questions concerning pasture management and supplementary feed as well as concerning fertility, animal health and claw health have increasingly been dealt with in a close cooperation with the other institutes of the AREC Raumberg-Gumpenstein since three years. Together with the investigation of the animal performance, determinations of achievement and plant sociological investigations they are in the centre of research work. The examinations of milk quality are of huge importance, as well. For example, the Omega-3-fatty acid´s content, which has a positive influence on the cardiovascular sytem of humans, is determined. Questions concerning the rearing of heifers, the herd management and management of fertility as well as trials concerning calf fattening are rounding the fields of activity of this department.
The base for the enormous research activities in the field animal husbandry are the research housings and areas. They include an agricultural effective area of about 90 ha and a livestock of about 180 cattle (thereof 65 dairy cows and 8 suckler cows) and are organizationally assigned to the Department for Alternative Cattle Production and Herd Management.
Department for Sheep and Goats
Head: Dr. Ferdinand Ringdorfer
- Influence of feed-quality and feeding intensity on fodder intake and milk performance of sheep and goats
- Optimal systems for the production of quality-lamb with Bergschaf and Merinolandschaf
- Economic parameters in the breeding of Buren-goats
- Recultivation of former alps with Buren-goats and sheep
- Ecological and economic effects of extensive grassland management systems in order to preserve cultural landscape
- Meat performance testing at sheep
The small ruminants sheep and goats are mentioned again and again, if questions concerning the keeping open of our cultural landscape, especially in mountainous regions, arise. The Department for Sheep and Goats concentrates on certain main points regarding the utilization of alpine grassland with sheep and goats. In all these questions, however, the product is always in the foreground. Sheep and goats deliver food of high value, both meat and milk. The special advantages, the pristine production of these products and also the positive effects on cultural landscape are especially to be emphasized.
Predominantly, the content-related questions and problems to be dealt with come out of practice. There is a close cooperation with the breed societies for sheep and goats. The department is also in large demand as project partner on the international sector. At present the department participates in the Interreg IIIB project "Alpinet Gheep", which deals with a network for the promotion of sheep and goat keeping in alpine regions.
Unit for Evaluation and Automation
Head: Andrea Adelwöhrer
STAFF: Martin Royer
The Unit for Evaluation and Automation is a so called "operative unit". It works as a "service company" for the three departments of the institute. Essentially, the staff of this unit deals with the following tasks:
- Set-up and preservation of complex electronic data-handling systems
- Quality assurance and quality control
- Project controlling concerning data collection, data flow and data evaluation
- Development and carrying out of new in vitro- and in situ-methods on a biochemical or enzymatic base with the aim of being able to evaluate the energy of feedstuffs as a base for the Austrian law for feedstuffs
- Care of the EDP-system components
- Coordination of technical system solution